These occupational profiles are part of a series of PRB products about the science and engineering workforce in the United States, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Data for these occupational profiles are based on PRB's analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey.
(December 2008) PRB has created a series of occupational profiles that highlight the uneven participation of women and minorities in the science and engineering labor force. The data, from the Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey (ACS), show variations in earnings, education, and the participation of minorities, women, and foreign-born workers in the high-tech economy. The ACS provides information about 47 separate science and engineering occupations, ranging from actuaries to urban planners.
To access each of the 47 individual profiles (one for each profession), click on the name:
Acturaries Aerospace Engineers Agricultural and Food Scientists Agricultural and Food Science Technicians Architects Astronomers and Physicists Atmospheric and Space Scientists Biological Technicians Biomedical and Agricultural Engineers Biological Scientists Chemical Engineers Chemical Technicians Chemists and Materials Scientists Civil Engineers Computer Hardware Engineers Computer Scientists and Systems Analysts Computer Software Engineers Computer Support Specialists Computer Programmers Conservation Scientists and Foresters Database Administrators Drafters Economists Electrical and Electronic Engineers Engineering Technicians Environmental Engineers Environmental Scientists and Geoscientists Geological and Petroleum Technicians Industrial Engineers Life, Physical, and Social Science Technicians Marine Engineers and Naval Architects Market and Survey Researchers Materials Engineers Mathematicians and Statisticians Mechanical Engineers Medical Scientists Misc. Engineers incl. Nuclear Engineers Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts Network and Computer Systems Administrators Operations Research Analysts Petroleum, Mining, and Geological Engineers Physical Scientists, All Other Psychologists Social Scientists Surveyors, Cartographers, and Photogrammetrists Surveying and Mapping Technicians Urban and Regional Planners
Here are some of the key findings from PRB's analysis of the data:
- Between 2005 and 2007, the number of people in the science and engineering labor force increased from 7.4 million to 7.6 million. In 2007, men accounted for 74 percent of the S&E labor force. There were only a handful of S&E occupations—psychology, market and survey research, biological sciences, and mathematics—where women made up 50 percent or more of the labor force. This occupational divide is important because it is associated with a gender gap in earnings. In 2007, median earnings in S&E occupations with higher concentrations of women were $13,000 less than earnings in S&E occupations dominated by men.1
- In 2007, over 90 percent of electrical, geological, mechanical, and naval engineers were men.
- In 2007, occupations with some of the highest median earnings included petroleum, mining, and geological engineers ($92,000), actuaries ($86,000), and economists ($86,000). Life, physical, and social science technicians—which include graduate research assistants—had the lowest earnings, at $28,000. Median annual earnings in the total S&E labor force were $61,000.
- Asians were most highly concentrated in the physical sciences, medical research, and computer software and hardware engineering. Asians account for only 5 percent of the total labor force but make up more than a fourth of people in each of these occupations. The majority of Asian Americans working in these occupations were born outside of the United States.
- African Americans and Latinos in the S&E labor force were most likely to be working as technicians, generally for lower pay. For example, median earnings for chemical technicians, who had the highest proportion of African Americans among S&E occupations, were $43,000 in 2007. Chemists, who are mostly white or Asian, had median earnings of $61,000 during the same year.
- Psychologists had among the highest proportions of doctoral degrees—43 percent. However, median earnings among psychologists were relatively low—$10,000 below the median earnings in the total science and engineering labor force. This disparity reflects the higher concentrations of women in psychology and the lower wages of women relative to men with similar or lower levels of education.2
Mark Mather is associate vice president of Domestic Programs at the Population Reference Bureau.
- Male-dominated occupations are classified as those in which men account for at least 60 percent of the labor force.
- For more information, see Marlene A. Lee and Mark Mather, "U.S. Labor Force Trends," Population Bulletin 63, no. 2 (2008): 12-13.